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Nessie evangelists: what might lurk in the murky depths

Letters | Published in TES Newspaper on 7 August, 2009 | By: James D. Williams

Your article “Fundamentalist exams on a par with A-levels” (July 31) filled me with great sadness. How a pseudo-scientific programme that teaches that Nessie is reality and dinosaurs and humans co-existed in Eden can ever be acceptable as a science qualification beats me.

As an admissions tutor for initial teacher education, I trusted the National Recognition Information Centre (Naric); that trust has lessened. On the basis that Naric looks only at qualification and not content, I could write a fairy biology course with taxonomic classifications of the various fairies and pixies and look at the anatomy of goblins and the aerodynamics of fairy flight. Provided I made the questions of “A-level standard”, would this mean Naric would recognise it as a science qualification? Probably.

The creationist movement in Texas fought and lost a campaign to have its programmes recognised at degree level, yet the UK Government hands them recognition on a plate. I can see the US creationists relocating to the UK as we seem to ratify any course content without questioning its validity.

The representative of the International Certificate of Christian Education clearly does not know of the origins of this programme and does not have much of a clue about its real intention - establishment of the authority of the Bible from first word till last. Even if a dinosaur were found alive today, it would not help “disprove” evolution. It would merely mean our timelines would need rewriting.

I have no worries about any Christian education that accepts the current scientific evidence and paradigms, as science need not challenge a religious world view. But where the religious world view seeks to distort, undermine, lie and ignore good science, I have to question the real motives of those behind the movement.

I feel a letter to the Secretary of State is in order.

James D. Williams, Lecturer in science education, Sussex University, Brighton.

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